Paying it Forward
Many Vistage 3080 members are very involved in philanthropic efforts. Additionally, we have started a tradition that has allowed us to help those in need of "a hand up."  At each month's meeting, we "pass the hat" and each member makes a donation of $10-$20. The meeting host takes the money and finds a deserving person to give the money to.  The only rules are that the donation can't go to an organization, must be anonymous and the member must report back to the group the following month on who and why they choose that particular person.

We have heard many touching stories where our members have reached out to deserving individuals.  We have been moved by these people and how grateful they feel. We are compelled to continue to "pay it forward" and help others.  Here are some of the letters we have received that expresses the heartfelt thanks of one of the people we have helped:

Story #1: 

To the angels in the wind,
 
I want to take this opportunity to THANK YOU and your group for your warm support you gave me and my family in our time of need.  The year 2008 was not a good one for me and my family.  We lost our home in Vista and my husband was laid off work in October.  My car is in need of maintenance and breaking down.  I don't know how much longer it will run.  Yes it s a FORD (smile) I am depending on my brother for food.

We are so thankful for your gracious gift and I promise to use it wisely and with love.  Again, thank you so much for choosing my family.

Story #2:

My name is “Joe” and I aged out of the foster care system 3 months ago. I live in my own apartmen as a part of a transitional housing program. I was recently laid off from my job and am in the process of dinging a new job. Due to some health concerns and family issues money has been tight lately. Your generous gift gave me the opportunity to pay my rent and phone bill so I can be in touch with prospective employers. I am most grateful for you kindness and will not forget this gift. Sincerely + your friend, “Joe”
 
Background:
 
"Joe" (an alias) needed money for his rent and we used part of the funds for that purpose. The rest will be given to him for food and to pay his cell phone bill while he is looking for a job so that potential employers can contact him.

He was recently laid off from his position at a movie theater. Joe sends money home to Honduras to support his family--part of his earnings help support his siblings at school and part goes to his mother who needs HIV medication. As a result, he often goes without himself.  Joe walked to the US from his home in Honduras. Apparently, his father was physically abusive to his mother and him. One time, his father broke his mother's back and while Joe and his family were at the hospital, his father took all of their possessions and left. Joe's family was destitute and his mother heeded back surgery. So he decided to come to the US to earn money for his mother. He was 16, I believe, and it was a harrowing journey. Once here, he found his godmother, earned the money for the surgery but was abused by his godmother and he came into foster care. Joe was assigned to Marco, a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer from Voices for Children. Marco helped Joe get special educational services and taught him English. Joe was able to obtain a OED and his green card. He aged out of the system at 18 and with Marco's help now lives in a transitional living program for foster kids. Joe is a member of our Real Word panel and speaks about his experiences coming to the US and living in foster care. Although his accent makes it difficult to understand him at times, his sweetness and warmth come through. Voices for Children has helped Joe before and he always repays us the money or volunteers for us in the office or at special events. He is terrific. I know Joe  will write to thank you. And I am most grateful to you and you colleagues for helping this young man. He won't forget it and he will pay it forward as you suggested.

Story #3:

I asked Julie to help me out on this one ….there is a single mom that she knows of and she over heard her talking about tough times and bills etc. She slipped the envelope into her purse with the below note explaining what it was for.   The woman mentioned it to the front desk at the gym and was surprised and appreciative:

This money is a gift from a group of business people who meet regularly to help each other with their business issues.  Our hope is that this gift makes your life a little better. And one day, when you can, we hope you can “pay it forward” by giving a gift to a stranger who might need a little help in their lives.

There is no obligation to respond, but if you'd like to tell us more about how this gift helped you at this time your life, you may send a note to us in the return envelop to (address).  There is no need to include your name as we want to respect your privacy.

Story #4:

I gave the envelope to an intermediary in RSF who gave it to Juanita (an alias).  She is a security guard with a local bank and guards the parking lot in the Village.  She lost her home last February, her husband lost his job in October.  They have a mentally challenged son who collects tin cans and they rent their home in Vista.  The Village merchants bought them a turkey for thanksgiving.  I could not find anyone who had a need for the funds more than the Martinez family.  On top of all this tragedy and misfortune, Donna needs dental work as well.

Story #5:

The husband has been wrongfully imprisoned for 17 years and the attorney who is volunteering her time to try to get him out took the $350 to relay to the wife and family.  (Friends of mine added to the $160 we collected at our meeting.)

 

The wife is the sole support of a 15 year old daughter and an elderly aunt.  The three women live in a 2 bedroom trailer, paid for by the wife working 3 “minimum wage” jobs.  They have no medical coverage, and the aunt requires expensive medication. The wife has been unable to afford the bus fare to see her husband for over a year. 

 

When the woman opened the envelope and read our message, she started crying.  Her hours at her “main job” had just been cut, and she said she had been ready to “just give up.”  This money was truly a life changing event for her.  She wanted to write a letter to thank us, but my friend explained that this was truly "anonymous giving" and that we required no thanks.  We only hope that someday she will be in a position to pay it forward.


Story #6:

Sammy (an alias) needed money for his rent and we used part of the funds for that purpose. The rest will be given to him for food and to pay his cell phone bill while he is looking for a job so that potential employers can contact him.

 

He was recently laid off from his position at a movie theater. Sammy sends money home to Honduras to support his family--part of his earnings help support his siblings at school and part goes to his mother who needs HIV medication. As a result, he often goes without himself.

 

Sammy walked to the US from his home in Honduras. Apparently, his father was physically abusive to his mother and him. One time, his father broke his mother's back and while Sammy and his family were at the hospital, his father took all of their possessions and left. Sammy's family was destitute and his mother heeded back surgery. So he decided to come to the US to earn money for his mother. He was 16, I believe, and it was a harrowing journey. Once here, he found his godmother, earned the money for the surgery but was abused by his godmother and he came into foster care. Sammy was assigned to Marco, a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer from Voices for Children. Marco helped Sammy get special educational services and taught him English. Sammy was able to obtain a OED and his green card. He aged out of the system at 18 and with Marco's help now lives in a transitional living program for foster kids. Sammy is a member of our Real Word panel and speaks about his experiences coming to the US and living in foster care. Although his accent makes it difficult to understand him at times, his sweetness and warmth come through. Voices for Children has helped Sammy before and he always repays us the money or volunteers for us in the office or at special events. He is terrific. I know Sammy will write to thank you. And I am most grateful to you and you colleagues for helping this young man. He won't forget it and he will pay it forward as you suggested.

 

Card received:

My name is “Joe” and I aged out of the foster care system 3 months ago.  I live in my own apartmen as a part of a transitional housing program.  I was recently laid off from my job and am in the process of dinging a new job.  Due to some health concerns and family issues money has been tight lately.  Your generous gift gave me the opportunity to pay my rent and phone bill so I can be in touch with prospective employers.  I am most grateful for you kindness and will not forget this gift.  Sincerely + your friend, “Joe”

 

Story #7:


Through Jill Spitzer, Executive Director of Jewish Family Services, the money ($300) was given to a San Diego single mother with 2 kids who had recently lost her job and was struggling to  meet her housing, food, utility obligations. I forwarded a copy of the Vistage letter to give to her. Don’t know if we ever got any response. As you can imagine, Jill indicated they are currently being overwhelmed with people in need of assistance and was very appreciative of our help.

Story #8:

My RAK nominee was recommended by the Center for Community Solutions, an outstanding nonprofit that serves the needs of battered women.  Our person in need is a mom with two teen-aged sons who left her abusive husband.  At the time of our gift they had been living in a car for 30 days and eating mostly only milk and bread.  Through the Center she has now found employment and is attempting to find permanent housing.  I worked through the associate executive director who was thrilled at our gift and in general what we are doing.


 
    Vistage 3080
    Group Chair:  Ivy Gordon
    Phone: (760) 633-1418
    Email: ivyg@cox.net